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Rowbotham Family History by Joan Rowbotham

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When I started this project over seven years ago I didn’t think I would get very far as, although I had some documents concerning Dad’s side of the family, I had none for Mum’s apart from Grandma Jackson’s death certificate and had no idea, even, what Grandad Jackson was called. Thanks to the power of the internet and, in Dad’s family’s case, the excellent Local Studies Centre in Ashton I have managed to find out quite a lot about our family.

Although there are many questions that still need answering, I think it is time to put what I have in print for you all. Before 1861 the family name is mostly spelt Rowbottom how and why it changed I don’t know, could be that the person taking the 1861 census just spelt it that way and it stuck. I will only deal with immediate family and only mention any uncles and aunts that I think may be of interest, as there are so many it would take me forever to write them all down.

Also although I have a lot of information about Dad’s side of the family I have very little on Mum’s apart from names and dates, I will have to pay a visit to the Sheffield archive one day. Usually a Family Tree is worked backwards from the present day but I have decided to work in the opposite direction starting with our Great Great Great Grandparents and working forward. I do have names and dates as far back as 1680 on our G G G Grandmothers side of the family and if any of you are interested I will send them to you. This family history is still a work in progress and there are many things I would love to find out, for example, quite a few of our ancestors died young and I would be interested to know how they died, but to do that I would have to order the death certificates which cost £7 each and also, thanks to the recent TV interest in genealogy, the price of internet access to records has of course leapt up so I can only do some research when I have a bit of spare cash, which is not very often. Well I have waffled on enough so here it is the fruit of my labours. Enjoy.

John Rowbotham (1808-74)

On Feb 8th 1808 John Rowbottom, born in 1781 in Matley Stalybridge, married Jane Cordingley, born in 1787 in Staley, at St Michaels Mottram. I have seen the entry in the parish records but it is barely legible so I cannot give any more information except that they lived in Newton Hyde after their marriage.

The spelling of the family name changed in the 1861 census. They had five children that I know of: John b 1808 Martha b 1812 Cordingley b 1815 Alice Sarah these could be twins as they were both christened on the same day 24 Nov 1822.

John married Sarah Wragg who was born in Bradfield Yorkshire in 1808. Sarah was the daughter of Adam and Ann Wragg, who moved their family from Yorkshire to Hyde to find employment in the Cotton Mills. The family is mentioned in the Poor Law Commission as an example of how families willing to relocate to find work could make a decent living.

Hyde had a population of 830 in 1801, which had increased to 7,138 by 1831 approximately 5,000 of which was calculated to be the result of immigration from rural areas. In 1833 Adam is listed as being a tenant of Mr Thomas Ashton of Hyde and being employed by him at one of his Mills. There are 11 members of the family and the average weekly earnings ending 23rd March 1833, are £3.10s. I can find no record of John and Sarah’s marriage but in the 1841 Census, the whole Wragg family plus John, Sarah and their two young children Hannah age 5 and Allen aged 2 are living in Throstle Bank Hyde. John is a coal miner and Sarah a cotton winder. Their first child, Wright born in 1835, died and was buried at St Georges Church Hyde on 3rd Feb 1836. Adam and Ann, our G G G Grandparents, are buried in Mottram church along with their son William who was killed in a mine explosion in Flowery Field, Joseph, another son , and Elijah Rowbottom another of John and Sarah’s children. Below is the grave inscription and the report of the pit disaster. I do have a photo of the grave and will send it to anyone interested. Grave A200 St Michaels Mottram In memory of William Wragg of Hyde who died 8th April 1842 in his 17th year.

All you that do pass by this stone Behold how quickly I was gone. Therefore repent, make no delay. I in my youth was called away.

Adam Wragg Feb 17 1846 age 69 Joseph his son Dec 11 1847 age 27 Ann his wife Aug 2 1858 age 82.

Elijah Rowbottom their grandson who died May 23 1865 age 14 years. William was killed on Friday 8th April 1842 at Flowery Field Pit which was also known as Black Pit. An explosion killed him and 17 other miners. An inquest was held at the White Heart Hotel, Old Road on April 11th 1842 which was adjourned after four hours awaiting further evidence and an inspection of the mine. When the inquest re-opened on the 14th April the verdict was accidental death due to lack of ventilation. Fire damp* had collected in what was called a dirt whale* and when this encountered a lighted candle caused an explosion, had there been better ventilation this would not have happened.

(Source: Flowery Field - A way of life gone. By Harry Lever. )

  • Dirt Whale- A place in old workings where waste dirt is dumped to save the time and expense of lifting it to the surface. * Fire Damp-Methane gas which became explosive when mixed with air.

By 1851 John and Sarah had enlarged their family with the birth of three more children. Lucy b1842 Josiah b 1846 Elijah b 1851 According to the 1851 Census the couple are still living in Throstle Bank Flowery Field. John is still a miner and the only Wraggs still living with them are Ann, who is now a widow, and Martha her daughter. Lucy is not mentioned in the Hyde Census, I found her, aged 8, boarding at a Deaf and Dumb School in Salford, apparently she had scarlet fever as a baby and lost her hearing and speech as a result. Lucy never married and worked as a cotton weaver, she lived with Sarah until Sarah’s death in 1885, she then went to live with her sister Hannah and her family in Newton until she died in 1896 aged 54. Elijah died aged 15 and is buried in Mottram; Josiah married in 1868 and died in 1901 aged 55. He married Sarah Ann Stopford and had three children. Hannah married in 1866 to William Newton she had four children with William but also had a son Alfred born before her marriage, his father is not known and he lived with John and Sarah, he died aged 12 in1876. Hannah died in 1912 aged 76. John died in 1874 aged 65 and Sarah died in 1885 aged 77.

Allen Rowbotham (1839-1908)

Allen lived at home with John and Sarah until his marriage on 8th April 1872 to Hannah Middleton, b 1851 Gee Cross Hyde, at St Pauls Staley. There is some confusion as to who Hannah’s father was, Hannah’s mother was called Sarah Bottom and she was born in Thornhill, Dewsbury Yorkshire in 1819. She married John Middleton, born 1814 in Eyam Derbyshire, sometime before 1838. In the 1841 census the family can be found living in Mid Hunt croft Hyde with their two children John aged 4 and George aged 4mth. John’s occupation is collier. At the same time in the same area near Treacle Hill another family called Layfield, mother Ann and sons Robert, Noah and James, are living.

I mention this because it would support my theory as to who Hannah’s father could be, as the two families may have been aware of each other. On the 4th May 1844 John Middleton died from injuries received in a mine explosion in Haughton Green. At the time Sarah was pregnant with their daughter Elizabeth so times must have been very hard for her. In 1851, however she is living in Mount Pleasant Hyde and Hannah is two months old. Robert Layfield, a cotton dresser, is living at the same address and is described as a lodger. Sarah had another daughter Ann in 1854 and I think that she was Roberts’s daughter as well; Ann was his mother’s name. Both girls were given the Middleton surname and when Hannah married Allen she gave her father’s name as Robert Middleton. Could be when she asked her mother what her father was called she was just told Robert and presumed his surname was the same as her own.

It seems the relationship didn’t last and Robert died aged 45 on 7th July 1855 at Foundry St Hyde of lung disease. By 1861 Sarah was back living at Treacle hill and is described as a laundress. She has managed to produce another child, Thomas Edward born in 1861; there is no father’s name on his birth certificate. Sarah died of liver cancer aged 58 on 29th July 1877.

By 1881 Allen and Hannah were living in Woodley Court Hyde which is near Frances St. Allen is still a collier and Hannah a cotton weaver they had produced four children. John Thomas b 1874 Elijah b 1875 Lucy b 1878 Allen b 1881 At the time of the census Allen was only six days old he died one year later in June 1882. John Thomas was killed in an accident, which happened on 11th May 1886, at Broomstair Colliery Haughton. He died from his injuries on 12th May 1886.

Hyde Collier Disaster 1889

Allen was involved in the Hyde Colliery Disaster, caused by a explosion of fire damp*, which occured shortly after nine o'clock in the morning of Friday January 18th 1889 at the Hyde Lane coal pit the shaft of which was situated between the canal bridge and Alfred Street the following is an extract taken from a book called “We’ll dee with eawr hearts up.” Mining disasters in the Tameside area . (2005) by Norman Bamforth QL622. Allen Rowbotham of Cross St Hyde who had come from the flooded Broomstair Colliery and was working in the far level with John Haslam. He first heard a sucking noise and some men and barrels nearby were blown around, but his candle stayed in. Haslam said "somebody has run a tub down the brow"* Rowbotham replied " I think not, it's fired somewhere" Rowbotham got his shirt and damped it with some tea he had in a bottle and put it over his mouth and nostrils, he made his way down the brow. When he got to the bottom he saw two men one called out "Is that thee Allen?" He said it was and asked if he was at the bottom, they said "yes" and asked if he had seen their mates. They were eager to get back to them. Rowbotham explained that if he could not get down the brow without nearly losing his life no-one could get up. Rowbotham was the last to come down the brow alive. * Brow - An incline within the mine up which the trucks are hauled. The haulage can be by hand, horse or steam engine. Also known as a jig brow. 23 Miners died that day and 5 others were seriously injured. By 1891 Allen and Hannah were living in Alfred St Hyde and had a new addition to the family, Allen aged 4mths. This is the Uncle Allen who we all remember appearing now and then with his tin of salmon. There are a couple of theories as to why he was an inmate at Cranage Hall in Macclesfield, I was always told he was suffering from shell shock and that he was “put away” for setting fire to a haystack. I know that he served in WW1 with the Cheshire Regiment and that he was transferred to the Labour Corps in 1916, from what I can gather the Labour Corps was made mostly of men who were no longer judged fit for front line service, due to injury etc, so maybe there is something in the shell shock theory. As for the haystack, well that’s a bit of an understatement.

James Dawson, Church Lane Marple, assistant manager of the Wharf Shed, corroborated the last witness’s evidence, adding that after the fire he found that some picking sticks had been put on the looms apparently with the idea of enlarging the fire. Mr James Dunkerley. Cashier at Ashton Bros’ Mills, said the cost of the damage done to looms and material was £145.6s.4p. When the Clerk read over the charges prisoner had nothing to say, no statement to make and no witnesses. On the three charges the magistrates committed the prisoner for trial at Chester Assizes. There was no application for bail. Allen was tried at Chester on 15th Oct 1920 he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months hard labour.

Where he was sent I don’t know it doesn’t say, so I have no further information, as yet. I do know that Cranage Hall, where he was a patient for many years, opened as a Mental Health Hospital in August 1932 but only took female patients, males were taken after 1948 so there is a huge gap between his first offence and his committal to Cranage will keep digging see if anything turns up. The Cheshire and Chester archives hold a great deal of info on Cranage, but, getting there to have a look would need a great deal of advance planning.

By 1901 the family had moved to Denton I can’t make out the address on the census, but Allen is still a Coal hewer and Harry is a waggoner. Allen died in Sep 1908 aged 69 and Hannah died in Jun 1911 aged 60. I don’t know at this point where they are buried. Also although I know that Lucy married a William Hudson in 1897 and Elijah married an Ellen Crompton in the same year I have been unable to trace them, as yet, any further. Florence married James Gledhill in 1909 it could have been her second marriage, again I have no further information. I have been unable to find any record of Allen Jr’s death so if any of you can help me with this I would be most grateful.

In 1885 a year before the accident our Grandad Harry had been born followed in 1887 by Florence. The family were nearly struck by tragedy again in 1889 when Allen was working in Hyde Colliery on the day of one of the worst pit disasters in Cheshire. His experience is written about in the history of Hyde but the following extract tells a more personal account.

Extract from The Denton and Haughton Examiner dated Saturday May 15 1886 (Which, coincidently, I discovered at the Tameside Local Studies and Archive on 12th May 2007, 121 years to the day of John's death)

FATAL ACCIDENT On Tuesday an accident of a painful and distressing nature occurred at the Broomstair Colliery to a lad named John Thomas Rowbotham (13) of Francis Street Hyde. It appears that the deceased had just gone down the pit and was proceeding up an incline to his work when he was met by a waggon full of coal that had been set in motion and was running down the incline at a rapid rate. Rowbotham was so seriously injured by the waggon that he succumbed the following day (Wednesday). Yesterday (Friday) morning the inquest was held before Mr W F Price * deputy coroner and a verdict of accidental death was returned. * In the inquest report the deputy coroner was named as Mr F W Johnson. The following is the inquest, it’s a bit long winded but I have included it to show how bad things were then.

Inquest of John Thomas Rowbotham

Extract from the Denton and Haughton Examiner 1886 May 22nd 1886 FATAL ACCIDENT AT A COLLIERY. INQUEST. An inquest was held on Friday week before Mr. F W Johnson, deputy coroner for the County of Cheshire, at the Wellington Hotel, Hyde, on the body of a lad named John Thomas Rowbotham, (13), of Frances Street Hyde, who died on Wednesday at noon from injuries sustained on the previous day at the Broomstair Colliery, under rather peculiar circumstances. Mr Dickinson, Inspector of mines and Mr Joseph Goodwin, manager to the Hyde and Haughton Colliery Company, were present.

The first witness called was Allen Rowbotham, collier, who said “I live at number 12, Francis Street Hyde. The deceased John Thomas Rowbotham was my son; he was 13 years of age. He was employed at Mr Sidebotham’s Hyde and Haughton Colliery as a jigger”. Deceased left home shortly before 12 o’clock on Tuesday the 11th instant, in order to go to his work. At that time he seemed to be in his usual health. At about 15 minutes past two o’clock in the afternoon he was brought home and witness was told that he (deceased) had met with an accident. Deceased was unconscious at the time, and never spoke except saying “what” when his name was pronounced. Dr Chambers from Manchester Road Denton was sent for while deceased was at the pit and he attended him till he died at about 12o’clock on Wednesday.

Mr Dickinson: Had the boy ever complained to you about his work? -- No.

The Coroner: He had never complained about his work being dangerous?

-- No Sir.

A juryman: How long had he been at that work? -- About twelve months, Sir. Peter Berry said he lived at Glasshouse Fold Haughton. He was a miner, employed in the Broomstair Pit Haughton. On Tuesday last he went to work at about half past twelve when he went down the pit; the deceased went down with them, he was working in the same brow as witness, deceased “jigged” for them. They did not hear anything until deceased was going up the brow as usual to his work; when deceased had got about 10 or 12 yards they heard a man named Walker coming along the brow with two tubs-- Walker would be about 24 yards away. They heard the tubs coming down the brow, and witness shouted to the boy “Jack come out of the way,” but deceased did not hear him. Had the deceased stepped out of the way he could have escaped injury. The tub, which was full passed witness running at a high speed. They went after the waggon as quick as possible and found the lad lying under it at the bottom of the brow. Deceased was unconscious they removed deceased as quickly as possible out of the pit. There should be a boy to push the wagons up the brow, but Walker was doing it himself.

By Mr Dickinson: They had put a stop block there now which is found very useful. By a Juryman: He did not think it was usual to couple the wagons as had they been so they Would possibly have both gone and taken him with them. The Coroner said the matter was very simple. There could not be any doubt as to the cause of death. The only question for them to consider, was whether there was any blame to be attached to anyone. There did not seem to him to have been, from the evidence, gross carelessness that amounted to negligence. Walker would be the only man to whom blame could be attached. He was doing something that he was not at all accustomed to. There was a slight incline just before the entrance of his work to the brow and to get the wagons up he had to get up some speed. He was just going to slack off but was too late, and in consequence of the speed the waggon was going at it struck against the plate and turned around. Walker seemed to have used all the care he was capable of. If the jury were satisfied that he used ordinary care then they could not attach any blame to him. If they thought that he knew about the work then he could be censured, but that would be all. Mr Dickinson had seen the stop block and if he was satisfied with it, the jury could be satisfied, but it was within their province to request the manager to continue to keep them. The manager said it was not necessary to push the tubs to give them an impetus. It would have been quite possible for Walker to have pushed the tubs up without giving that impetus.

The Coroner pointed out that it was owing to Walker’s ignorance, as to the work he had to do, that the accident had occurred. Had Walker’s waggoner been at work it was more than probable that the accident would not have happened. The manager remarked that hooking rails were provided, and had they been used, the accident would not have occurred. Walker would admit that they were not in. He knew when he left the far end that the rails were not in. Under ordinary circumstances that were in and were always supposed to be in. By a juryman: Walker had no right to go out without them. In answer to the Coroner, the manager said it was usual to waggon with one tub at a time. The waggoner should have stopped before he got to the plate, and taken them up one at a time. There was sufficient height for him to have seen where he was going to but he was not looking and consequently he lost control over the wagons. The Coroner: Walker was pushing the tubs at a good speed to the top of the brow, and being unacquainted with the work he pushed harder than necessary. A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned coupled with the recommendation of the Coroner which the manager promised to attend to. Just goes to show that Health and Safety wasn’t really thought about in those days.

Harry Rowbotham (1885-1946)

Harry Rowbotham, b 14th June 1885, married Nellie Crompton , b 18th April 1891, on 29th April 1910. Nellie was the daughter of Charles Crompton and Annie Heywood who married at a civil ceremony in Ashton in 1884. Charles and Annie were both born in Salford. Charles in 1857 and Annie in 1862. Although I can find no information as to how Annie came to be in Ashton or Denton and meet Charles I have been able to trace Charles through the Census from Salford to Denton.

In 1871 the family had moved from Salford to Leeds where his father John was employed as a silk hat finisher, an occupation he also did in Salford. Charles is now 14 and a warehouse boy. By 1881 he is 24 and living in Ashton Rd Denton with his mother’s brother William Whitworth and his family, Charles is now described as a hatter. After marrying, Charles and Annie must have settled in Denton as the couple, who by 1891 are living in Hatcham in Deptford, have two children, Sarah Alice aged 5 and Joseph aged 2 both are recorded as born in Denton. The Census for that year was taken on the 1st April and their second daughter Nellie, our Grandma, was born 17 days later on the 18th. There is some speculation as to whether Charles is actually Nellie’s father but I have not been able to get hold of a birth certificate yet to check this out. What I do know is that by 1901 Annie and the children, including another daughter Elizabeth aged 7, are living back in Denton on Moreside Lane. Elizabeth is recorded as being born in Denton. Charles meanwhile is still living in London alone and working as a Silk Hat cutter.

Why the couple are apart I don’t know but I think maybe Charles did eventually move back to Denton as I have found a death listing for a Charles Crompton aged 49 in 1906 which fits in with the date of his birth. Elizabeth was, of course our Auntie Lizzie who married John Keenan in 1913. I know that Sarah Alice died in 1903 aged 17, but have been unable to find out any further information about Joseph, he seems to have disappeared after 1901.

I also cannot, at the moment, say when Annie died. I think the newlyweds set up home on Moreside Lane in Denton as that is the address given on Harry’s Army records.

He enlisted at Denton on 11th Dec 1915 and somehow ended up joining the 1st Bn Northumberland Fusiliers on 4th June 1917. I have attached his records because I don’t really understand them so anyone helping to decipher them would be a great help. What I do know is that he was 5’7” tall weighed 118lbs and had a chest measurement of 36 ½ “ he was wounded twice once on 13th Dec 1917 when he had treatment for a shrapnel wound to his scalp and again on 21st March 1918 when he received a gunshot wound to his left hand, this resulted in his being shipped back to England and the amputation of his left ring finger. For this he received a pension. The earliest mention of 16 Birch Grove I have found is 1937. I am trying to find out when the estate was built as I think they were the first tenants to move into the house.

They had three Children: Annie 1911 Harry 1915 Ellen 1917 I think we all know more or less what happened to the three of them Annie married Sam Mills in 1935. Ellen married Eric Butcher in 1937. I have found Ellen and Eric’s marriage certificate, they married on 13th Feb 1937 at Christ Church Denton Ellen was 19 and Eric 22. Up until now I had always thought that Dad was the youngest and that he was the baby in the picture I have of Nellie and her three children, so another revelation. Dad married Mum in 1940. I did manage to find this in the North Cheshire Herald dated 26th January 1940. Taken from the North Cheshire Herald January 26th 1940.

Granddad died 13th September 1946 of prostate cancer (my David was born exactly 30yrs later on 13th September 1976, explains a lot ) and Grandma died as a result of an accident on 17th August 1976. I must mention that she did remarry, in 1962, to Gilbert Charles Turberville.

As I have mentioned I know very little about Mum’s side of the family. I know that she was born in Darfield on 15th Feb 1919 to Isaac and Edith Jackson. She was the 6th of 10 Children: 1. Thomas 1907 2. Emily 1908 3. Mary 1909 4. John Fredrick 1912 5. Miriam 1916 6. Edith 1919 7. Harry 1921 8. Freda 1924 9. Joyce 1927 10. Kenneth not known Grandma Jackson’s name was Edith Annie Flatters and she was born on 1st March 1889 in Wombwell Yorkshire. Her parents were John and Eliza Flatters who came from Lincolnshire. She died on 15th December 1975. Granddad Jackson was born 1882 in Barnsley and was the son of Fredrick Jackson, b 1854 in Handsworth Staffordshire. And Sarah Dyson b 1856 in Darton Yorkshire. I do not know the date of his death. Well there you have it far from complete I know but I will keep digging away. If any of you have any memories that may be of help please let me know.


Bride and Denton Groom The wedding took place at St. Georges church Hyde, on Saturday, of Miss Edith Jackson, a maid at Arnora House, Church Street Hyde and Mr Harry Rowbotham, of Denton. The bride is the daughter of Mr Isaac and Mrs Edith A Jackson of 16 Elliot Avenue Wombwell Yorkshire, and the bridegroom son of Mr and Mrs Harry Rowbotham 16 Birch Grove Denton. He is employed at the New Failsworth Hat Company. Given away by her father, the bride wore an attractive dress of blue silk lace, a silver juliet cap and veil and carried a bouquet of pink carnations. She was attended as bridesmaids by Miss Thelma Spencer and Miss Nellie Harrison (friends), who were dressed in turquoise pink crepe, with floral head-dresses and carried posies of anemones. The bride’s mother wore a brown dress with a fawn coat and hat to tone. A navy blue coat with hat to tone was the choice of the bridegrooms mother. The Vicar (Rev E.V. Dawson B.A.) conducted the ceremony, Mr Harold Horton was best man and Mr John Keenan groomsman. Twenty-six guests were entertained at the reception, held at Arnora House. Numerous presents have been received by the couple, including a case of cutlery from the bridegrooms workmates. I am still trying to find out about Arnora House if anyone has any memories please let me know.

Taken from the North Cheshire Herald January 26th 1940.

Hyde Bride and Denton Groom The wedding took place at St. George's church Hyde, on Saturday, of Miss Edith Jackson, a maid at Arnora House, Church Street Hyde and Mr Harry Rowbotham, of Denton. The bride is the daughter of Mr Isaac and Mrs Edith A Jackson of 16 Elliot Avenue Wombwell Yorkshire, and the bridegroom son of Mr and Mrs Harry Rowbotham 16 Birch Grove Denton. He is employed at the New Failsworth Hat Company. Given away by her father, the bride wore an attractive dress of blue silk lace, a silver juliet cap and veil and carried a bouquet of pink carnations. She was attended as bridesmaids by Miss Thelma Spencer and Miss Nellie Harrison (friends), who were dressed in turquoise pink crepe, with floral head-dresses and carried posies of anemones. The bride’s mother wore a brown dress with a fawn coat and hat to tone. A navy blue coat with hat to tone was the choice of the bridegroom's mother. The Vicar (Rev E.V. Dawson B.A.) conducted the ceremony, Mr Harold Horton was best man and Mr John Keenan groomsman. Twenty-six guests were entertained at the reception, held at Arnora House. Numerous presents have been received by the couple, including a case of cutlery from the bridegroom's workmates.

Arson Trial 1920 Allen Rowbotham

North Cheshire Herald September 10th 1920.


In our last issue we recorded two fires to which the Hyde Fire Brigade had been called, the first at Newton Hall Farm, off Dukinfield Rd, Hyde the second in a weaving shed at Throstle Bank Mill, not more than several hundred yards distant from the fire. The Brigade were called to the second fire while subduing the first. There has been a rather serious sequel in the arrest of a young man named Allen Rowbotham (29), of 1 Ann Street Hyde, who was before the Hyde magistrates, Mr. Davenport (presiding) and Alderman Mirfin, on Thursday charged with (1) maliciously setting fire to a barn at Newton Hall Farm; (2) breaking and entering the Wharf Shed at Throstle Bank, with intent to commit a felony; (3) maliciously setting fire to two looms in the Wharf Shed. The Chief Constable (Mr Danby) informed the magistrates that most of the witnesses were away on holidays, and as the charges could only be dealt with at the Assizes there would be no hardship in a remand.

Police Inspector W.H. Smith gave evidence showing that on the 1st, inst, a fire at Newton Hall Farm was reported at 11.53 pm. He went with the brigade to the farm and found a barn containing about 35 tons of hay fiercely burning from end to end. The roof had fallen in. There was no wind. From enquiries witness found that the fire could not have been I progress for more than a short time. He saw the prisoner at the farm. When the farm fire had been partially subdued, prisoner left them, this was about 1am. Shortly afterwards prisoner came again and reported that there was a fire at Ashton Bros’ Mill. Later when questioned as to his movements, prisoner gave an explanation which the inspector considered very unsatisfactory. At 8pm on the 2nd inst the inspector sent for the prisoner to the police station. He came and in conversation made contradictory statements, so he was detained. When cautioned and charged, he made no reply. Several hundred pounds worth of damage was done."

The prisoner, who had no question to put, was remanded in custody till next Thursday.22

North Cheshire Herald September 18th 1920



On Thursday the Hyde magistrates, the Mayor (Councillor Bury presiding), Mr W Pope and Alderman Mirfin, investigated the charges of arson against Allen Rowbotham, 1 Ann St off Manchester Rd, Hyde. There were three charges (1) setting fire to a barn at Newton Hall Farm; (2) breaking and entering the Wharf Weaving Shed at Throstle Bank Mill; (3) setting fire to two looms in the Wharf Shed. Mr Bevan, solicitor (from the office of Mr H Bostock) conducted the prosecution.

In opening the case Mr Bevan said the charge was a very serious one and steps must be taken to protect private property. On the 1st September, about midnight, the brigade was called to a fire at Newton Hall Farm. Prisoner was the person who warned the occupants of the farm of the fire. After the brigade had arrived at the farm and were working upon the fire, prisoner seems to have disappeared; and shortly afterwards he came back with the report that Ashton’s Mill was on fire. On his own confession, he stated that he did set Ashton’s Mill on fire. The position seemed to be, that having set the barn, containing over 30 tons of hay, on fire, and seeing the brigade there; he deliberately went and set the mill on fire. He accomplished his purpose. He absolutely destroyed the barn and the hay in it, also the looms under which he put something to burn.

Marshall Schofield, a labourer at Newton Hall Farm, stated that about 10.15pm, on the 1st inst, he had a look round the farm and found everything alright. He went to bed about 10.45. At 11.45 he was aroused. He came downstairs and went into the yard, where he saw a man, who said, “Your barn’s afire”. Witness asked which end it was. The man said, “Have you a telephone?” Witness replied “No”, and to that the man said, “Well that’s where you’re lost.” Witness noticed smoke coming out of the barn window at the old end, where the old hay was stored. Witness ran to the fire box at Flowery Field and gave the alarm. There would be about 30 tons of hay in the barn, all new, except about 30cwts. When witness returned to the farm the man was still standing there. Witness asked him which end it started at and the man replied, “This end” meaning the old end. Witness had locked the doors of the barn about six o’clock. The hay was worth about £10 a ton, so there was £300 worth, all destroyed. When witness returned from the alarm box at Flowery Field, the roof of the barn was dropping, and the whole barn was ablaze. In the witnesses opinion the fire had not started from combustion. Witness’s employer, Mr Thomas Schofield, had been in the Lake hospital at Ashton-under-Lyne since about last April and he left witness in charge. Witness did not know whether the man was in drink or not. From the way he spoke he seemed perfectly sober.

Richard Oulien, 3 Cannon St of Dukinfield Rd Hyde, a train conductor, gave evidence that about 11.20 on the 1st inst, he was passing Newton Hall Farm, and Throstle Bank Mill near his house, and saw no signs of fire at that time. He was walking.

Sergt, Clitheroe said he was called to the fire at Newton Hall Farm at 11.53pm on the 1st inst. He proceeded to the farm with the tender,and nine men, arriving about midnight. The flames had already burnt through from end to end of the roof. They got it under control in about twenty minutes. The fire was very equally distributed. It was a very mild night and the moon was full. Next day witness visited the place again and examined the interior of the building. He noticed the fire had travelled close to the wall on the inside, and in his opinion was not caused by spontaneous combustion. If it had a cavity would have been found in some part of the stack. On the 3rd inst, witness saw the prisoner, who voluntarily made a statement to him, which he took down in writing. After cautioning him witness took down the statement now produced. In this statement the prisoner related that on the night of September 1st he visited several public houses in Hyde, having, in all, five pints of beer. Then he walked to Ashton, where he called at a public house and had another pint. From Ashton he went to Audenshaw by road, returning to Ashton about 11pm. He then came through Dukinfield to Newton Hall Farm. “I must have started smoking” the statement proceeded. “I got through a door at the back of the barn, and went and lay down, against the hay, in the barn. Shortly afterwards I felt I was being chocked. I woke up and could feel the barn was full of smoke. I jumped up and tried to open the big gates leading into the barn, but could not manage it. Then I informed the people at the farm that the place was on fire, and a young man came out and went away to call the fire brigade. I left about five minutes later, came down Dukinfield Rd turned down by the new shed, got into the weaving shed at the back, where I set two looms on fire by striking matches. I got out of the mill and informed the watchman, and told him a portion of the mill was on fire. I afterwards took Mr Danby and others to the mill and showed them where the fire was.

The prisoner had also made a statement to Sergeant Wood. This was much the same as the other. Prisoner said that on arrival at the farm he lay down and began to smoke and must have dosed off. Inspector Smith said that when they arrived at the farm the fire was burning fiercely and the roof had fallen in. He saw the prisoner there who was very excited. He saw the prisoner again at 12.55 when he said to witness “There’s a fire at Ashton Bros’” Witness sent men to it. He again saw the prisoner about 3pm the same morning when prisoner made a contradictory statement. Witness noticed prisoner’s hands were burned all over.

An estimate for repairing and restoring the barn was put in by Mr Fred L Simpson, King Street Dukinfield, cashier of the Dukinfield estate, owners of the farm. The amount was £375.

On the second charge John Knowles, 3 Sydall St Hyde night watchman at Throstle Bank Mill, related that at 12.30am on the 2nd inst he heard a knocking at the Lodge door. Opening it he saw the prisoner, who said. “Dost knowt’ Wharf Sheds on fire”. Witness replied “No” and prisoner said “Yah it is lit up yonder”. Prisoner looked excited and red in the face. Going into the shed he found two looms afire a broad one and a narrow one, fourteen yards apart. Questioned by Mr Bevan, witness stated that on the 20th July whilst at the mill, at 11.30pm he was warned by the sprinkler bell and found some cotton afire both in the cotton warehouse and in the picker room. In the latter room he saw the prisoner who said “How do” and “it’s a *****, a fire at two places” prisoner then left. So far as witness knew, prisoner had never been in the employ of Ashton Bros’.

Mr Bevan: Did it occur to you as very strange that he should be there at all?

That is so.

Magistrates Clerk: Did you make a report about it?

No sir. You didn’t know how he got in?

No sir.

Asked if he had any questions to put prisoner said he knew nothing about the fire just referred to. The Mayor said it was most extraordinary to have a fire and a strange man on the premises and no report made. John D. Timms, 3 Frank St Hyde, a watchman in Ashton Bros’ employ; said everything was alright in the Wharf Shed at 11.10pm on the 1st inst, when he went on a round. It was stated by William Moore, a fireman in the employ of Ashton Bros’, that he was called to the fire at 1.15am. He described what he found. Two 61 inch looms and one 32 inch loom were burning. He found a large quantity of burnt and partly burnt bobbins underneath the looms. Portions of some skips were under each loom and a number of skips and tins were near to the burning looms. Witness found two spent matches, one under a loom and one in a partly burnt beam. Entrance into the shed had been effected through an adjoining room; a trestle had been leant against the wall outside, and someone had got through the window, witness discovered finger marks on the sill. The skips had been taken from other looms so it could not have happened accidentally.

James Dawson, Church Lane Marple, assistant manager of the Wharf Shed, corroborated the last witness’s evidence, adding that after the fire he found that some picking sticks had been put on the looms apparently with the idea of enlarging the fire. Mr James Dunkerley. Cashier at Ashton Bros’ Mills, said the cost of the damage done to looms and material was £145.6s.4p. When the Clerk read over the charges prisoner had nothing to say, no statement to make and no witnesses.

On the three charges the magistrates committed the prisoner for trial at Chester Assizes. There was no application for bail. Addition 28/01/1948 Discovered Allen was an inmate of Moss Side State Institution, Maghull, Liverpool in 1939 Monday, 30th October 2017. Formerly a Military Hopital = see below

Forgotten history of military hospital revealed on Armistice Day University historians are involved in a project to discover stories from Moss Side Military Hospital

Image courtesy of Dr Rowlands A special Armistice Day event will showcase the pioneering wartime work and legacy of the former Moss Side Military Hospital in Maghull.

Historians from Manchester Metropolitan University, archives consultant Kevin Bolton, staff from The Atkinson and local volunteers from throughout Merseyside will deliver a day of talks and activities at The Atkinson on the important but largely unknown history of the hospital. The event will showcase the findings so far of a Heritage Lottery Fund project designed to capture memories of Moss Side, which introduced ground-breaking new treatment for soldiers with shell shock during the First World War. Over 3,600 patients were treated between December 1914 and 1919, and Moss Side became renowned in the developing field of psychological medicine. Clinical staff at the time were described as “the brilliant band of workers who made Maghull the centre for the study of abnormal psychology”. The site closed in 1995 and buildings were later demolished. Recent research has uncovered some of the moving stories of those who were patients, those who cared for them, and of the local community which found itself on the front-line of medical treatment in the war to end all wars. Dr Sam Edwards, Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "HLF-funded research initiated by The Atkinson, conducted by local volunteers, and supported by historians from Manchester Metropolitan University has shed new light on the fascinating history - and legacy - of Moss Side Military Hospital in Maghull. “During and after the First World War the hospital was a pioneering treatment centre for shell shock, and recent research has uncovered some of the moving stories of those who were patients, those who cared for them, and of the local community which found itself on the front-line of medical treatment in the war to end all wars." Visitors to The Atkinson on Armistice Day will be given a rare opportunity to see archival material from Moss Side. Liverpool Record Office will be in attendance with items such as minute books from the hospital.

Emma Anderson, Director of The Atkinson, said: “Our project has brought together community interests and made strong connections with today’s veterans’ organisations. New stories about the ground-breaking work as well as the lives of patients and staff at this hospital are being brought to light, revealing how the whole community was involved in and impacted by the war and the hospital. “We are delighted that Bill Esterson MP will attend the event, as he has championed this part of Sefton’s heritage for many years. The event will involve talks, films, family activities and opportunities to learn more about local and family history connected with Maghull.” The event is free, open to all and will run from 11am – 3pm on Saturday 11th November at The Atkinson, Southport. Booking is not required. There will be fascinating talks, expert insights, children’s activities, documentaries, and moving tributes to the often forgotten victims of the war, and the 'brilliant band' who came to their aid. To find out more about the Maghull and the Great War Remembered: Shell Shock - the impact and aftermath on lives and minds project, contact the project team on ww1volunteering@theatkinson.co.uk

Manchester Metropolitan University All Saints Building Manchester M15 6BH United Kingdom +44 (0)161 247 2000

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